THE latest massacres, including the train killings and abductions in Kaduna and other parts of the North that have for some years now, come under incessant attacks from so-called bandits and terrorists, have highlighted once again how dangerously close Nigeria has come to buckling under the weight exerted on it by violent forces opposed to her existence.
The possession and deployment of terror seem evenly balanced at this point, with government forces on one side and the terrorists and other fringe elements on the other, giving the way and manner the country’s security forces appear to be growing increasingly weaker before the centrifugal forces ranged against them. In some instances, the terrorists clearly have the upper hand.
They have grown bolder and bolder and seem determined to prove that the state has no surprises left in store for them. Which would account for why Alhaji Lai Mohammed’s claim that the country is increasingly safer was no sooner out of his mouth than it was disproved by the attacks in different parts of the North.
Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Information, it should be admitted, enjoys nothing more than the reputation of an unconscientious propagandist among Nigerians. Few if any Nigerians, including his own employers I suspect, are prepared to take his words at anything near face value. Often his words are accompanied with not just a pinch but indeed generous doses of salt.
To have him as the official spokesperson of the government at these times is something of a misadventure. But President Muhammadu Buhari is not renowned for sacking his appointees much more for one much trusted and loyal as Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
At this point in the life of the present government, just about anything that could go wrong has gone wrong. There’s hardly anything left to say by way of informed opinion or commentary that has not been saying. Rather than show signs of improvement things are getting out of hand. A flashpoint only needs to be located and it widens out of control.
Take the security threat. It started like any other act of civil disobedience by a disaffected religious group, soon tacitly encouraged by the local elite that chose to cover their back while demanding all sorts of rewards on their behalf.
After years of appeasement, we are now at that point where these renegade groups have acquired enough terror power to stand up to the state and reject any offers of a peaceful resolution. They have tasted human blood and nothing less would satisfy them.
Time was when Nasir el-Rufai, the tough-talking governor of Kaduna State, could openly say that the terrorists that had before now turned Nigeria into a raging battlefield had been paid off like the common brigands and mercenaries they are supposed to be.
This even while none of the northern elite would admit to the claim of one of their own, Kawu Baraje, that the terrorists were the artificial creation of power mongers who had imported them through our porous borders from other parts of the continent to disturb the peace of a previous administration.
The chickens have since come home to roost and the song on El-Rufai’s lips now is for a rain of bombs on the terrorists’ hideouts which he claims, as we all can confirm, are not unknown to the security forces.
The frustration that was the lot of many Nigerians who could not understand why the Buhari administration dragged its feet on moving against the terrorists, parried all attempts to make or call the terrorists by their true name rather than bandits, or deploy into action the cure-all super Tucano jets that we were assured would end the reign of terror- that same frustration is now the sole inheritance of El-Rufai. He has assumed the role of an outsider to the inner workings of the Buhari administration and seems to have lost all personal influence on President Buhari given the manner Buhari took sides with Mai Mala Buni in the scarring battle that preceded the convention of the All Progressives Congress that produced leaders weaned on the breast milk of the Peoples Democratic Party, its main rival.
The intellectual arm of the northern APC element, represented by the likes of El-Rufai, has lost the battle for control of the policy direction of the APC under Buhari to the anti-intellectual vanguard led by the likes of Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice whose driving force is at once narrow and venal. Aside from the security threat, what should Nigerians make of the increasing powerlessness and near-annihilation of the naira that catches a cold each time the US dollar, as are other foreign currencies, sneezes? The naira is on a marathon race with the prices of food and other household commodities behind which it continually lags.
The gap between the naira and these commodities has grown four times wider in the last year, yet Abuja has no handle on it. The latest casualty is the energy sector which has witnessed a sudden scarcity of and an increase in the prices of kerosene, petrol and diesel, among other household and commercial fuels.
The scarcity that started like or we were told was a case of contamination caused by a high level of methanol has gone on for about two months and is beginning to look like something Nigerians must add to the pain of their everyday experience in the last seven years. Power failure is rife as many parts of the country are in perpetual darkness.
Not even the most optimistic supporter of the Buhari administration will deny the government has lost its bearing, leaving Nigeria at a crossroads. Yet the resolution of the present crises is not a matter for Buhari or his administration alone. It is a matter Nigerians must collectively own and seek a way out of. This is a case of the heavens falling, as the Yoruba would say. That is a crisis that should worry everybody.
To sit back and view this matter as one that only the present administration must resolve as part of its electoral promises to Nigerians is to be both naïve and unpatriotic. We must move beyond the level of partisan consideration in the fight against the forces ranged against the survival of this country.
Yes, the present government is overwhelmed and has certainly bitten off more than it could chew. But there is nothing to justify trust in any opposition party or figure taking over to resolve things.
In any case, what is the difference between the APC and the PDP as the only viable opposition today? President Buhari must admit he needs help and we all must rally around him to save Nigeria now!